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In honor of the Greater Des Moines Young Professionals Connection turning 15, we spoke with some of the group's movers and shakers about how they've changed the city, and how the city has changed them.

MEET ABBY RODEWALD

Age: 27

City: Des Moines (Originally Hudson, Wisconsin)

Role in YPC: 2015 Athletics Coordinator / 2016 President Elect

Years in YPC: 3

What it means to be a young professional: A young professional is someone with drive, motivation and willingness to get involved in order to make a difference. It has nothing to do with being young and everything to do with attitude and outlook on life.

Favorite YPC memory: The 2013 Kick-Off party at Kum&Go Theater. It was the first time I can remember walking into a YPC event with no feeling of intimidation. The atmosphere was fun and relaxed and I had a chance to meet a ton of new people, most of whom I now consider my closest friends.

Where DSM will be in 15 more years: In my mind, Des Moines will be a much more walkable city. With an influx of downtown housing, business and urban revitalization, the population will necessitate alternative modes of transportation and commuting along with an increase of outdoor cafes, and shops at a more pedestrian scale. Des Moines will continue to become more about the pedestrian experience and less about the automobile.

Best thing about DSM for young people: The proximity to business leaders and their willingness to mentor. Des Moines CEO's and top business leaders are always willing to grab coffee or lunch and lend their advice to young professionals. It's something I think we really take for granted.

MEET CORY W. SHARP

Age: 28

City: Des Moines

Role in YPC: 2015 President Elect

Years in YPC: 7

What it means to be a young professional in Des Moines: Des Moines is a unique place in that being a young professional means being part of a voice in the community. This city really admires and appreciates young professionals and the motivation and talent they bring to our region, and if you are vocal about what you would like your city to have or to be, people will listen.

Favorite YPC memory: Winning the Golden Circle Games in 2007. It was my first introduction to YPC, and a big reason why I became involved in the organization.

How YPC has helped shape the city: I don't think it's too far off to say that without the creation of YPC 15 years ago, Des Moines wouldn't be known as the #1 place for young professionals as it is today. Our community leaders listen to our young people here and it's that empowerment that I believe helps maintain strong young talent in our city, and what drives future decisions of our city.

Where DSM will be in 15 more years: I think you will see Des Moines continuing to grow steadily, as it has for the last 15. At a certain point,our size will effect our character as a community and we are going to need to be aware and proactive about this as we continue to move forward. Young people today and tomorrow will be the driving force of our city.

Best thing about DSM for young people: Quality of life. You can't find all the great things we have here in Des Moines anywhere else. From housing affordability to food, entertainment, community, volunteerism, appreciation and nice-ness, Des Moines has it all.

MEET DAMON JACKSON

Age: 39

City: Des Moines (Originally Houston, TX)

Role in YPC: 2015 Membership Chair

Years in YPC: 5

What it means to be a young professional: It means being someone who selflessly gives back to the community, is willing to learn from others in order to grow professionally, and who values, cherishes and highlights all the unique and valuable opportunities we have in Central Iowa.

Favorite YPC memory: I'd have to say it was when the Diversity Committee hosted a discussion on the book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" by Sheryl Sandberg. Although it was a very controversial book, the committee was able to bring in Female Leaders from around the community in order to have a discussion about the book with YPs in the area. It was interesting to hear how the leaders and YPs (female) faced some of the same struggles in their chosen professions, and it was very eye opening for me to understand what YPs face as they embark on their chosen professions.

How YPC has helped shape the city: YPC provides a gateway for YPs looking to find their niche in the city by providing opportunities and connections through their many charitable, professional development and social activities

Where DSM will be in 15 more years: We will definitely be a city which has expanded geographically, but more importantly we will be a more diverse city from our people to the types of business and industries we’ll be able to attract to Central Iowa.

Best thing about DSM for young people: The endless opportunities to connect with others, learn and grow.

What DSM is missing and what it needs: An Amtrak station.

MEET MANDY MCWHERTER

Age: 25

City: Waukee

Role in YPC: 2015 Professional Development Chair, 2016 Community Relations Chair

Years in YPC: 3 years

What it means to be a young professional: A young professional is someone who see themselves as engaged in the community and looking to grow through making connections, gaining leadership experience or advancing in their career. The best part about being a YP in Des Moines is the endless opportunities. We have access here that is totally unique. With all of accolades of best this and best that, the greatest benefit are the leaders in Des Moines who want to meet with YPs hear their ideas and support them in their endeavors - all you have to do is introduce yourself and express interest!

Favorite YPC memory: I don't think I could pinpoint one particular memory, all I can say is that YPC has been beneficial to me in so many ways, but none more so than the chance to make friends and be a part of a community that embraces all of the things we stand for: diversity, civic engagement, charitable and social activities, and professional development. YPC has introduced me to wonderful friends who have helped me to experience all that Des Moines has to offer.

Best thing about DSM for young people: The general standard of living to encompass the great job opportunities, low cost of living, a vibrant arts and music scene, not much traffic, and friendly people! Even though I hate the cold and snow, I can't imagine living anywhere else.

MEET MACKENZIE HAWK

Age: 25

City: Des Moines

Role in YPC: Secretary/Treasurer

Years in YPC: 2 years

What it means to be a young professional: I think being a YP here in Des Moines at its essence is essentially being passionate about making our community a better place. A YP is driven to make new connections to grow personally & professionally.

Favorite YPC memory: I love our Sips, Samples & Sights tours that we put on every year, because we get a glimpse of the history behind some of our oldest buildings in downtown. It helps me paint of picture of what was around back then and appreciate how much we’ve grown.

How YPC has helped shape the city: I think YPC helps set the building blocks for success for our Young Professionals in Des Moines. We are shaping the future leaders of this fine city, and I think that makes our city such a tremendous place to live.

Where DSM will be in 15 more years: I hope that DSM in 15 years is still one of the best places to live. I think Des Moines will still be affordable, full of culture and hopefully have some mass transit options to make the Greater Des Moines metro more accessible.

Best thing about DSM for young people: I think the accessibility to culture is #1. You can go see a live show, visit a gallery and eat at a local restaurant all within a couple miles at a reasonable cost. That’s pretty awesome.

To learn more about YPC, go to ypcdsm.com.

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